Natural gas transport utility Fluxys is now using apps for materials management on site by means of SAP Fiori technology. This is the first time Fiori has been used on this scale in Belgium. TheValueChain helped develop the apps.
Fluxys has a 4,100 kilometre-long network of underground pipelines in Belgium, as well as about 200 pressure reduction stations, 4 compression stations, a site for underground storage of natural gas and a terminal for the transhipment of liquefied natural gas. Site managers coordinate the works on over fifty operational sites.
‘Materials management in the warehouse is done in SAP. It was not the intention to familiarise our people on the ground with SAP. We wanted to give them a simple mobile solution for ordering materials in the warehouse’, says Rudy Putteman, ICT Project Manager at Fluxys.
The development time was limited, because the apps have a substantial amount of pre-programmed functionality.
As easy as ordering a pizza
The decision was made to use Fiori apps, which are mobile applications based on SAP technology. ‘At Fluxys, we have a lot of know-how in .NET applications. But Fiori takes the biscuit when it comes to user-friendliness. Our workers are used to apps on their smartphones. You order a pizza with the press of a button. They expect the same simplicity when ordering materials on their site.’
If a site manager places an order via the app, the warehouse receives a message. The order is recorded automatically in SAP. ‘In the past, we used Excel and Access. We sent e-mails. Some people worked with paper forms. Now the process is completely digitized. Everyone is working in the same way, and every action is traceable. That reduces the chances of making mistakes.’
7 apps in 4 months
Rudy Putteman sees even more benefits. ‘We are working more efficiently now. The know-how that is embedded in SAP, with the warehouse staff, is passed on to the site. The site managers know what equipment and materials are available at any time. Everyone has the information they need.’
TheValueChain built seven apps in four months, one app for each action – for example to search for materials, to order them or to print out the order form. Fluxys was the first to complete a whole process from A to Z in Fiori – from retrieval to receipt of the equipment or materials.
Workshops with site managers
The approach was effective. From day one, the users were involved in workshops. Together with TheValueChain, Fluxys organized sessions to decide the design and functionality of the apps.
This gave site managers a forum to make clear what they wanted, and how it needed to look. ‘That led to some lively discussions. It made sure that the users bought into the applications’.
Our site managers are standing with their feet in mud. They need tools that work. Immediately, without a hitch. Today, they are even asking for more apps. That is the best evidence that they are satisfied.
Fluxys opted for TheValueChain due to their experience with Fiori. ‘But the multi-faceted know-how at TheValueChain was at least equally important’, says Rudy Putteman. ‘They combine technical wizardry with functional talent and design know-how’.
It was also a requirement that our SAP partner would provide support after the apps were built. TheValueChain has the team and the capacity to do that. They show their commitment, even after the event.’
Fiori is based on SAP. That is why the integration went really smoothly, according to Putteman. ‘We simply linked the apps to our existing infrastructure. The development time was also limited, because the apps have a substantial amount of pre-programmed functionality. We were able to make use of the time saved to test it extensively.’
Fluxys pays a lot of attention to performance. ‘Our site managers are standing with their feet in mud. They need tools that work. Immediately, without a hitch. Today, they are even asking for more apps. That is the best evidence that they are satisfied. In the warehouse too, they are working with apps now, because they are so user-friendly.’
Rudy Putteman wants to go further down this road. ‘We want to expand the apps to include offline capabilities. We are also planning apps in other fields, such as maintenance or inspection of our infrastructure. The foundations have been laid. Now we can build on them.’